Poor Henrietta Marie
One of the things that distinguishes English sound artist Nigel Samways' work from others is that he doesn't use the field recording as merely a decorative add-on to his musical material; instead, the field recording functions as the nucleus for the musical fabric woven around it. Poor Henrietta Marie perfectly exemplifies the approach. If at first the three-inch EP (available in only a fifty-copy run) seems oddly titled, it turns out to be anything but, as Samways built the piece up from a recording he made of a girl singing “Wade in the Water” while busking on a street in Lewes. Supplementing that material with magnetic tape, computer processing, and live instruments, Samways creates a dream-like twenty-two-minute suite that finds the girl's exhalation repeatedly resounding within a slipstream of glassy haze and abandoned mansion-like noisemongering. Dense winds blow through the EP's dusty corridors while rain dribbles and drizzles beyond its walls, after which the singer soulfully serenades herself into a trance amidst rivulets of shimmering organ tones until the piece crawls to an unsettling, funereal close. Likening the recording to an aural hallucinogen wouldn't be too far off the mark.